Top Shooting Drills and Zeroing Targets worth $47 FREE - Limited Period Offer

9 Best Deer Hunting Rifles You Can Still Buy

Each fall more than 100 million American hunters take to the woods, fields, and mountains in search of whitetail deer.

Deer hunted with 6.5 creedmoor
Hello, gorgeous!

Although whitetails are the most plentiful and popular game animals on the face of the planet, successfully hunting them isn’t always as easy as those pictures in the hunting magazines make it look.

If you’ve spent any time in a treestand or box blind, you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

Deer being fed
Now there’s an idea! Invite them to dinner…so that they can be dinner…

Although modern hunters have seemingly infinite numbers of rifle designs at their disposal, not all of them make good deer rifles. 

Want to increase your odds of punching a tag next deer season?

Here are some of what we consider the best rifles for deer hunting still in production today.

deer hunting overkill
There’s no kill like overkill, but maybe leave the belt fed stuff at home when hunting anything smaller than a T-rex.

Guns don’t earn legendary status overnight.

The models on our list have definitely been around the block a time or two.

They have proven their worth over decades (sometimes generations). 

vintage hunting
Grandpa’s hunting rifle may actually be your best bet!

Whether you want a wall-hanger worthy of the record books, or you’re content with some nice, tender doe meat, there is something on this list for you.

Table of Contents

Loading...

What We Mean By “Deer Hunting”

The word “deer” can mean different things to different hunters.

Technically, a “deer” is any cloven-hoofed member of the family Cervidae.

This family includes big boys like mulies, elk, and moose.

However, most people who call themselves “deer hunters” are addicted to chasing the common whitetail.  

Cervidae Family
Meet the Cervidae Family. Yes, these are all deer.

While most of the rifles that made our list can easily handle bigger deer (especially when they are chambered for hard-hitting cartridges), they earned their spot by being incredibly well-suited for dropping whitetails specifically. 

Whitetail Deer
Whitetail Deer

Hunting whitetail deer isn’t exactly a one-size-fits-all sport.

These animals have a massive range that spans from the East Coast to the Continental Divide and from the top of South America to the Arctic Circle.

They inhabit deep Bayou swamps, big hardwood forests, and the sparse scrublands of Texas and even thrive in the suburbs!

Elk Hunting Spotting Scope
“Here, deerie-deerie-deerie…”

With so much diversity, it is impossible to crown one rifle king of them all. 

Deer hunters hunt from treestands and ground blinds. They hunt across acres of open cropland and deep inside thick, brambled forests.

Some love a spot-and-stalk approach. Others love to hunt with dogs. 

Despite their love of cookie-cutter suburban lawns, whitetails are anything but cookie-cutter animals.

Neither are deer hunters.

The perfect rifle for dropping hawgs in the big woods may fall short when it comes to pegging goonies across a harvested cornfield. 

Spooked Deer
Trying to hit this? You’re going to need a hell of a rifle.

If you’ll be deer hunting in thick cover, you may need to make quick, off-hand shots.

A short-barreled rifle or carbine will allow for more maneuverability.

Traditional lever-action rifles are most at home in dense woods and make terrific “brush guns.”  

If most of your shots will span open farmland or flat prairie grass, ditch the carbine and opt for a long-barreled, flat-shooting rifle.

Top it with a high-power optic, and you’ll be set for those tough, long-distance shots. 

Before you get your sweet little heart set on a certain new hunting rifle, check your local hunting regulations to make sure you can use it legally.

Many states (and some areas within those states) have heavy restrictions on the type of weapons or cartridges you can use to hunt deer. 

Always good advice.

Some states have strict minimum caliber requirements.

Others only allow deer hunting with straight-walled cartridges (like .45-70 Government).

Some jurisdictions won’t allow you to use any centerfire rifle to hunt whitetails.

To make sure you’re hunting within the confines of the law, sift through your area’s most recent hunting regulations before you hit the woods.

Best Deer Hunting Rifles Still on the Market

So now that you know the kind of deer you face and where you might find them. Let’s dive into the actual list of deer worthy rifles.

We’ve included a little something for everyone, no matter what your deer hunting style looks like.

1. Winchester Model 94

Although the iconic Winchester 94 is likely to conjure up nostalgic images of the Old West, it also has quite a nice hunting resume.

Some hunters claim this rifle has put more venison on more family dinner tables than any other rifle in history.

Winchester 94 & Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt - Original Pistol Caliber Carbine
Winchester 94 & Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt – Original Pistol Caliber Carbine

Since there’s no Snopes page refuting the claim, we’re going to roll with it.

(Especially since four generations of hunters in my family have killed deer with my own Winchester 94.)

First introduced in (you guessed it) 1894, the Model 94 was the first rifle chambered for the renowned .30-30 cartridge.

The .30-30 Winchester is an awfully nice cartridge for close- to medium-range deer hunting. 

.30-30 Winchester
.30-30 Winchester

Although the Model 94’s tubular magazine once limited hunters to blunt-nosed soft points, Hornady’s LEVERevolution has brought .30-30 ballistic performance into the 21st century, extending the rifle’s effective range.

The Winchester 94 is a near-perfect brush gun.

It is lightweight, easy to maneuver, and one of the fastest and easiest rifles to shoot off-hand.

Plus, in the field, that simple lever-action is less likely to malfunction than more complex designs. (I’m looking at you, autoloaders.) 

Winchester 1894 Deluxe Short Rifle Guns and Ammo
Winchester 1894 Deluxe Short Rifle (Guns and Ammo)

Although Winchester halted production of the Model 94 in 2006, they have since realized the error of their ways.

Today, hunters can purchase a brand new Winchester 94 chambered for the traditional .30-30, as well as .25-35, .32 Win Special, and hard-hitting .450 Marlin. 

Best Lever Action Rifle
1200
at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. Marlin 336

Speaking of awesome lever-action deer rifles, let me introduce you to the Marlin 336.

While Winchester beat Marlin to the lever-action punch by more than a few decades, Marlin made a few welcome improvements to the legendary lever design

Marlin 336
Marlin 336

The biggest difference?

Marlin’s flat-top and side-eject receiver.

This makes the Marlin much easier to top with a scope. It also prevents dirt, rain, and snow from dropping into the innards of your rifle. 

Everything else we love about the Winchester 94 is still wrapped up in the Marlin 336.

This rifle is ultra reliable, light, fast, and accurate. It has everything you need in a brush gun.

Marlin 336 with scope Guns International
Marlin 336 with scope (Guns International)

But you can actually top this one with a rifle scope…just in case that slob-knocker you’ve been chasing for four seasons steps out at 300-yards across an open bean field. 

If you’re looking for other great lever-actions for deer hunting, check out the 4 Best Lever Action Rifles You Can Still Buy.

515
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Remington Model 700 (Clones)

The Remington Model 700 has seen big-time use in long-range sharpshooting, particularly in law enforcement.

It has also seen plenty of action on the battlefield in the form of the M24 and M40. 

remington 700 bdl with scope
The Remington 700 BDL combines classic hunting rifle looks with a number of modern touches.

All the qualities that make the 700 good as a sniper rifle also make it an awesome option for deer hunting.

In fact, it should come as no surprise that the Remington 700 is one of the most popular deer rifles of our time. 

The Remington 700 has one of the simplest, most successful bolt-action designs known to man.

Remington 700
Remington 700

It features two opposed locking lug bolts with a small extractor and plunger ejector.

However, Remington of today isn’t the Remington of old. Multiple bankruptcies, a cliff drop in quality, and getting a reputation as being Rustington due to the number of rifles and shotguns with bad coatings — it’s hard to recommend them anymore.

Remington 700 Optics Addict
Remington 700 (Optics Addict)

Instead, look for a Remington 700 footprint rifle. These are clones basically that copy the design of the Remington 700 but are made by other brands.

From custom shops like Big Horn and Terminus to factory options like Bergara — these rifles use Remington 700 stocks and chassis, triggers, and other accessories — but are built to higher standards.

Recently, Remington filed bankruptcy (again), and the company’s weapons business was snatched up by Sturm, Ruger & Co for $30 million — which is honestly the steal of the century.

Bergara B-14 HMR magazines and bipod
Bergara B-14 HMR in 6.5 Creedmoor with a Athlon Ares BTR Gen II

We hope this means that the age of great Remington products will once again be upon us, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Until then, get yourself a Bergara — we love the B-14 HMR, but they offer a lot of great models that will last to pass down to the grandkids.

Get a Bergara chambered in .308 Winchester, top it with a quality FFP scope (like the Vortex Viper PST), and those long-range bucks won’t know what hit ‘em. 

Also, if you go the way of the 700 footprint we have a TON of resources centered on this particular firearm — everything from Best Upgrades to Stocks & Chassis to Triggers.

900
at GunPrime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. Savage Model 110

The Savage 110 is the oldest, continuously manufactured bolt-action in the U.S.

And its design has been relatively unchanged since Savage filed the patent in 1963. 

Savage Model 110
Savage Model 110

The one major development over the years has been the addition of the user-adjustable AccuTrigger, which was added in 2003.

With the quick turn of a screw, shooters can adjust pull weight from 1 ½-pounds up to 6-pounds.

(Varmint models adjust down to 6-ounces! Talk about a hair trigger).

Not only is Savage’s two-stage AccuTrigger customizable, it’s also crisp, clean, and has zero creep.

The design has left other manufacturers scrambling to keep up. 

Savage AccuTrigger
Savage AccuTrigger

Why is the Savage 110 so popular with deer hunters?

First, it’s insanely accurate. But more importantly, it’s insanely cheap.

This is a practical, no-frills kind of rifle — a great option for budget-conscious deer hunters.

Just don’t be fooled by the price tag.

The Savage Model 110 is one of the best quality factory-built rifles you’ll ever lay hands on. 

750
at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

5. Mauser Model 18

German-born Mauser rifles devastated American soldiers during both World Wars, and they continue to devastate American whitetails. 

Mauser M18 (Guns and Ammo)
Mauser M18 (Guns and Ammo)

The original Mauser bolt-actions were intentionally weighty, so they could handle rough use on the battlefield and still shoot straight.

With the Mauser 18, the company managed to maintain its reputation for accuracy while using modern materials (like a cold-hammered barrel and a lightweight synthetic stock) to make a sportier, easier-to-handle rifle. 

We promise the straight-shooting accuracy that made Mauser famous is still there.

If you crave sub-MOA precision from your deer rifle, the Model 18 is thoroughly capable of satisfying your appetite. 

6. Weatherby Vanguard

The Weatherby name has long been synonymous with big game hunting, and it really doesn’t get any better than the bolt-action Weatherby Vanguard.

This rifle boasts sub-MOA groups at 100-yards straight out of the package. 

Weatherby Vanguard (Aussie Hunter)
Weatherby Vanguard (Aussie Hunter)

Although the Vanguard comes in several standard and Magnum caliber configurations, they all feature match-grade, creep-free triggers, cold hammer-forged barrels, and raised-comb Monte Carlo stocks.

These are competition-grade hunting rifles perfect for dropping long-range wall-hangers. 

If you really want to extend your effective hunting range, opt for the Vanguard Meateater edition.

This puppy features a longer 26-inch barrel with a more aggressive 1:8 twist rate for extreme long-range accuracy. 

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (37)

Your Rating?

7. Browning BAR 

The Browning BAR (which stands for Browning Automatic Rifle), literally sets the bar for every semi-auto hunting rifle on the face of the planet.

But honestly, we shouldn’t expect anything less from a rifle that bears the Browning name.

Browning BAR MK 3 DBM (Outdoor Life)
Browning BAR MK 3 DBM (Outdoor Life)

This one wasn’t designed by the legendary John Moses Browning, however.

Instead, we have Bruce Warren Browning (the fourth and last generation of Browning designers) to thank for the BAR.

John Moses Browning (left) inspecting a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) at the Winchester Repeating Arms Company factory, c. 1918.
John Moses Browning (left) inspecting a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) at the Winchester Repeating Arms Company factory, c. 1918.

The BAR burst into the deer hunting scene in 1967 and it’s been a favorite ever since.

This is one versatile hunting rifle with the qualities to satisfy deer hunters of all walks of life.

Val Browning with an M1918 BAR
Val Browning with an M1918 BAR

It is fast, reliable, and available in a variety of configurations, calibers, and barrel lengths.

Best of all, it delivers a level of accuracy that gives the average bolt-action a serious run for the money. 

8. AR-10

First developed by Eugene Stoner in the 1950s, the Armalite AR-10 is the AR-15’s harder-hitting, only-slightly-less-cool older brother.

This one has all the fun of an AR-15, only with enough oomph to humanely harvest big whitetails.

Aero M5 .308 AR-10
Aero M5 .308 AR-10

This accurate, fast-shooting, well-balanced rifle is a great option for deer hunters.

It is reliable, durable, easy to shoot, and highly customizable.

Not to mention, it also offers an awesome tactical look that will totally make you the talk of this year’s deer camp. 

PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Upper and Lower
PSA AR-10 Gen 3 Upper and Lower

In addition to Armalite’s original AR-10 design, you can also find AR-10 style rifles from a slew of other manufacturers.

1410
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The PA10 from Palmetto State Armory and the Daniel Defense V4 feature the same basic Armalite design. 

Most Proven AR-10
2500
at Daniel Defense

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

You can check out our complete list of the Best AR-10s for the rundown.

9. Ruger Mini-Thirty

Perhaps the perfect deer rifle for the heartland, the Ruger Mini-Thirty features a super-simple, super-rugged M1 Garand-style action.

Ruger Mini-Thirty
Ruger Mini-Thirty

Skeptics may question the power of the AK-47 round (7.62x39mm) for deer, but the ballistics aren’t that far off from the venerable .30-30 Winchester.

Plus, the Mini 30 can easily pull double-duty as a hog hunting rifle. 

Assorted 7.62x39 (FMJ, Open, Soft, FMJ)
Assorted 7.62×39 (FMJ, Open, Soft, FMJ)

While the Mini-Thirty would never be described as hair-splittingly accurate, it does a better-than-decent job at average deer hunting ranges.

Besides, what this rifle may lack in precision, it makes up for with its 20-round magazine and autoloader design.

Did someone say, “lightening-fast follow-up shots?” 

Mini-Thirty with Scope
Mini-Thirty with Scope

The Ruger Mini-Thirty probably won’t win any beauty contests, but it is a solid, reliable workhorse.

Head over to the Best Ruger Mini-14 & Mini-30 Models piece we put together to find which model best suits you.

1000
at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

Deer rifles don’t always look like grandad’s beat-up rifle. They span from AR-10s to heavy bolt-actions to even 7.62x39mm chambered rifles.

Basically, you can make deer hunting your own with a variety of models to choose from.

We’ve listed some of our favorites here, but there are a wealth of rifle options on the market just waiting for you.

Deer Through Night Vision
Deer Through Night Vision

We know there are other fine hunting rifles we’ve missed, so go ahead and set fire to the comments section. We want to hear all about your favorites. New to deer hunting? Check out our Introduction to Deer Hunting for more tips, tricks, and gear recommendations.  

The Best Gun Deals, Coupons and Finds

Subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical's sales and deals email.

Leave a Reply

New to Guns ? Check out our beginners guns video course. Start Now